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US inflation data delayed by website glitch, shows wholesale price jump

·2-min read
And 8.8 percent jump in gasoline prices pushed PPI inflation up in March, but the data was delayed by a website glitch

Annual US wholesale inflation spiked to its highest rate in nearly a decade last month, but the news was delayed by a glitch on the Labor Department's website Friday.

"Sorry for the delay in the PPI release, folks," the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tweeted, followed by a thread with the details on the data.

At the normal release time of 8:30 am (1230 GMT) interested observers were met with a message saying: "The BLS website is busy. Refresh page and try again."

The report showed signs the reopening economy is seeing prices rebound, something economists and the Federal Reserve have warned will happen temporarily due to the dramatic declines amid the Covid-19 shutdowns.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) jumped 1.0 percent in March, seasonally adjusted, double the monthly increase in February and slightly slower than January, the BLS reported.

But in the past 12 months PPI surged 4.2 percent, unadjusted, the highest since September 2011, the report said.

The jump was driven by an 8.8-percent jump in gasoline prices.

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, PPI was up 0.6 percent in March, and for the latest 12 months increased 3.1 percent, still accelerating from recent levels, the report showed.

"The powerful cocktail of generous fiscal stimulus, warmer weather, and greater vaccination dissemination will spark the strongest inflation that the economy has seen in sometime this spring," said Mahir Rasheed of Oxford Economics.

However, like most economists Rasheed said price spikes will be fade later in in the year.

Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida on Friday reiterated the central bank's message that it will not raise lending rates off zero until annual inflation reaches and holds steady at two percent and won't be spooked by temporary price spikes.

"Because of the nature of the pandemic shock a year ago, as we move through 2021... headline inflation is likely going to move above two percent because we're going to be comparing this year's prices to last year's collapsing prices," Clarida said on Bloomberg TV.

But that is likely to be "transitory" and the "we have the tools" to deal with persistent inflation, he said.

hs/ft